The HVAC system in your Dallas, Texas home serves three essential functions. This equipment regulates your indoor temperature, moderates indoor humidity, and to a lesser degree, protects your indoor air quality. However, basic HVAC filters only provide a minimal amount of air filtration. These components protect heating and cooling equipment rather than building residents. When your goal is to minimize odors, eliminate micro-fine particulates, and rid your living environment of the many dangerous airborne pathogens and contaminants that standard HVAC filters can’t catch, an air scrubber may be your best bet.

What Are Air Scrubbers?

An air scrubber is an integrated HVAC appliance. This unit attaches directly to HVAC ductwork to purify the air before distributing it throughout the home. It seamlessly coordinates with the normal operations of heating and cooling equipment. After indoor air is passed through an HVAC system’s built-in filter and then heated or conditioned, it moves through the air scrubber for further filtration and purification.

Sometimes referred to as “negative air machines,” air scrubbers have been used for years in hospitals, clean rooms, and various other medical and industrial settings. For example, if you’ve ever had a major flood in your home or had to schedule mold remediation, your water damage restoration company likely used an air scrubber.

These appliances offer three stages of filtration, UV light technology for eradicating harmful pathogens and PCO catalytic filters that kill even the most elusive pathogens on contact. When passing through these units, micro-sized particulates that are missed and retained by standard HVAC air filters can’t float off or blow away. With their efficient, honeycomb-style filters, air scrubbers can capture dirt, dander, dust, chemical contaminants, and more in multiple ways.

However, the name air scrubber comes from the final stage of air cleaning that these provide. Air scrubbers release ionized oxidizers that scrub the indoor air. These ionized oxidizers work like airborne soap. They eliminate pet odors, smoke, viruses, bacteria, mold spores, cooking odors and more. The result is a cleaner, fresher-smelling, and far healthier living environment overall.

What’s the Difference Between Air Filtration and Air Purification

To improve indoor air quality (IAQ), many homeowners upgrade their standard HVAC air filters to filters with higher maximum efficiency reporting value (MERV) ratings. Advanced filters can capture and retain small-sized particulates pushed through standard HVAC air filters. However, with MERV ratings ranging from one (lowest efficiency) to 20 (highest efficiency) and residential HVAC systems unable to accommodate filters rated 13 and above without first receiving significant modifications, most upgraded filters can still leave a lot of contaminants floating around.

Not only are standard HVAC air filters designed primarily for the protection of HVAC equipment, but they’re also only capable of picking up the solid particulate matter. For instance, they can’t capture and retain the airborne germs introduced by a sneeze or the smoke that travels into the home from a lit cigarette by an opened window. Instead, air filters sift out solid matter and leave countless chemical and biological contaminants behind. They’re effective for removing particulates measuring between 1 to 10 microns in size, such as:

  • Carpet fibers
  • Pet hairs
  • Dander
  • Dust mites
  • Dust
  • Mold spores

Conversely, air purification cleans the indoor air. It takes air filtration several steps further by eliminating particulates measuring as small as just .3 microns and sanitizing lights and solutions to kill living pathogens on contact. The extra steps include eliminating viruses, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), bacteria, and carbon dust. Advanced air filtration works well for homes with limited IAQ concerns. Air purification is best when building residents have chronic respiratory ailments, compromised immune systems, or age-related conditions.

The Benefits of Having an Air Scrubber Installed

As homeowners become increasingly aware of the chemical and biological contaminants prevalent in their homes, air purification is quickly becoming a top priority. Creating a tight home envelope is a significant part of lowering your environmental impact and reducing your home heating and cooling costs. Airtightness is done by sealing up gaps, cracks, and other points of air loss, adding insulation and weatherstripping, and essentially creating an airtight living environment. In a highly efficient home, heated and cooled air cannot flow out and cause energy waste. Unfortunately, this also means that fresh, outdoor air isn’t flowing in, and airborne contaminants don’t have a viable avenue for escape.

The lack of fresh air comes in addition to the fact that many homeowners use solvents and caustic chemicals for oven cleaning, personal care, polishing furniture, deodorizing, and disinfecting surfaces. Without air purification, the depilatory creams, air fresheners, and sanitizers used in your home can leave harmful chemicals floating around your living space indefinitely.

Creating a tightly sealed home also means that the building is more likely to retain unpleasant odors. Removing unsavory smells can take a long time if your dog needs a bath or you’ve recently fried fish. In addition, using aerosol cans to disburse air fresheners isn’t good for the natural environment and isn’t good for human health. Using an air scrubber instead, you can tackle your odor and indoor air quality concerns without introducing new chemicals into your home.

Another impressive benefit of air scrubbers is greater protection for your HVAC system. As this integrated appliance cleans and purifies your indoor air, it gradually reduces the number of airborne particulates your HVAC air filter encounters. The reduction eliminates system stress, improves airflow, and allows your HVAC equipment to work efficiently.

Is an Air Scrubber Right for Your Home

Air scrubbers are excellent additions to homes with residents who struggle with asthma and allergies. If someone in your household has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a compromised immune system, or any other serious health issue, cleaning your indoor air can prevent their symptoms from being exacerbated by airborne toxins. In addition, air scrubbers limit certain illnesses’ transmission and avoid mold and mildew development, increasing their value.

Homes with low indoor air quality due to environmental factors can also benefit from these integrated HVAC appliances. For instance, outdoor contaminants likely make their way inside if your home is near an airport, a busy street, or a freeway.

It’s also important to note that air scrubbers don’t have to be standalone solutions to IAQ problems. Working with HVAC professionals is the best way to get individualized and needs a specific plan for improving indoor air health, safety, and quality. With an IAQ assessment, you can determine whether humidification, dehumidification, advanced filtration, or air purification suits your home.

For over 50 years, On Time Experts has been a trusted HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair service provider throughout Dallas, Texas and the surrounding areas. We also offer plumbing, duct cleaning, and drain cleaning services. So, if you’re interested in installing an air scrubber or want to know more about our other indoor air quality solutions, give us a call today.

Meet the Author
Randy Kelley
Randy Kelley

Owner

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